Where does a progressive charismatic go?

Adversaries 1So many of you know, in fact for many of you it may be the primary reason we are connected, that I am, for want of a better word, religious. I have never fitted well into any box. Most other people use the word ‘Christian’ when they talk about me but I don’t and never really have as I feel it doesn’t represent me accurately, especially when so much of my work over the past 20 years has been in a public setting and that public setting has already decided what the word ‘Christian’ means, and their definition is not what I am.

One of the reasons I have never felt comfortable with the term “Christian” is that I look at the community that identifies with that word and I don’t see people like me, who think like me, who act like me, or who represent their faith in the way I represent my faith. So if I’m nothing like them, then I’m not one of them…right?

As someone who hopes to constantly grow in his beliefs, opinions and perspectives on “life, the universe and everything“, I have come to the conclusion in recent times that it doesn’t seem that I fit…because I don’t fit. Simple really.

As with the word “Christianity” I really hate labels as I find them too encompassing, but for the sake of conversation I will try to expand on where I see myself fit in the church.

My personal beliefs, theology and faith fit more comfortably with what many would describe as Progressive Christianity…but my natural style of worship (read ‘style of church’ for you non-religious) is much more like what many would see as Charismatic Christianity. Let me state this for the record to make it very, very clear before the Christian trolls decide to have a crack. I am neither Progressive nor am I Charismatic, but they are areas within the faith that I gravitate towards for aspects of my personal journey and therein lies the problem.

In New Zealand, progressive churches (which support the LGBTI community and treat women as equals) are typically very traditional (think hymns, organs, choirs and a liturgical, repeated service each week) and seem to be to have less of an interest in what the bible describes as “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” On the other hand, a charismatic church will have more life, more youth and have more my preference in style of music. However a charismatic church is much more likely to be very conservative in its beliefs (think anti-same sex marriage, limits on women’s participation in the church) and there is often an implicit message that input from outside the bible is something to be avoided, and everything in the bible is ‘literal’. I realise I am being unfair to pigeon hole all charismatic churches like this, but if you lined up a hundred of each, these trends would be very obvious to see.

So for someone who wants the style of a charismatic church, but the intellect and theology of a progressive church what do they do? What do I do?

In an ideal world I would be finding a church that has progressive leanings and a charismatic style but it would seem that in Dunedin that kind of church doesn’t exist. When we first arrived in Dunedin I tried to attend a church that has progressive leanings knowing that the style wasn’t me, and I hoped that I could make a space for myself and others who wanted more of what I was looking for. Offers were made and accepted, but those doors were quickly closed so here I sit on Sunday morning at my desk with no church affiliation…but still feeling like I want one.

I decided this morning that I actually want to find a church here in Dunedin. In my investigative efforts so far I have failed to find what I am looking for and what I’ve decided to do is start by finding out where churches sit theologically. Obviously I can find out about their style of worship is by visiting. I have three questions to ask the leadership in the churches I am going to approach.

  1. If one of my children was to come out as gay at 15 how would they be received in this churches congregation?
  2. If my child, then as an 18 year old, wanted to be the leader of the youth group, how would the leadership approach that?
  3. If my child, at 22, then wanted to be married to their same-sex partner in this church, by the Pastor, how would that be received by the leadership?

Whilst many know that my connection with and defense of the LGBTI community is a very important part of my faith, it’s not the be-all and end-all. However I find that asking questions around this issue is very enlightening – it gives me a pretty good indication of where the church sits on other issues important to my faith.

Let’s see how I go.



If you are interested in interacting with me about this post you can comment below, follow me on twitter or facebook or email me directly.

What would Pope Francis do?


I am a product of the Catholic schooling system although have not been a part of the Catholic Church since I was 16 and have not considered myself a Catholic since then. I am proud of my association with my old schools (St Peters College Years 7 to 9 and Sacred Heart College, Years 9 – 13) and have nothing but good memories from them especially whilst boarding at SHC.

I have never wanted to associate myself with the Catholic Church once leaving school, not for any particular reason other than I found it boring,  not very relevant to my life and lacking in inspiration. However recently I have found myself drawn to the new Pope and am excited about the direction he seems to be taking the Catholic Church in and whilst I am not fully ‘on board’ with everything he says, it’s obvious to me that the direction he intends to take the Church in is less regressive than previous Popes.

One of my greatest joys in recent times was hearing Pope Francis talk about the dangers of capitalism, the need for the wealthy to look after the poor and the concern for what he calls the “idolatry of money.”

It is with the knowledge that the Pope has significant and public concern about how the poor are treated, and the obvious links he is making to money and how it should be distributed, that I was extremely disappointed at receiving an email from SHC this week asking, among other things, for donations towards a $70,000 Grand Piano for their new music department.piano

Now looking around $70,000 might be a very good price for a top end Grand Piano, I spoke to someone today who sold them as was told that they can range between $150,000 and $350,000 so I am not saying this is not a “good deal” I am challenging SHC on whether it is important at all.

I found a Grand Piano online for under $12,000 and I am sure the best upright piano, that many music departments would drool over would be far less than $70,000. What would Pope Francis do?

I don’t want this to turn into a ‘smash the Catholic Church’ conversation, it’s not my intention to give them a black eye, but as someone with 17 years ‘behind the pew’ I think I can gently tap you on the shoulder and say, “have you really thought this one through?”

SHC is in the suburb of Glen Innes which is one of the poorer suburbs in Auckland. If you look at the make up of the community you will see that the only demographic it is ahead in compared to the Auckland and National averages is “people earning under $20,000” and that nearly 60% of the homes there are not owned by those dwelling in them. This is a struggling suburb.


On top of all that with there being a lot in the news at the moment about people sleeping in cars I have to wonder how a school, who claims as a part of their Special Character that their culture “is centred on the person of Jesus Christ” can bring themselves to be comfortable with spending $70,000 on a single musical instrument.

Many will also ask about the wealth that the school is literally sitting on. SHC is situation at 250 West Tamaki Road, Glen Innes. The records show that this property has a Ratings Valuation of $65,500,000 of which the land alone is worth over $40,000,000. Again I understand the idea of being ‘asset rich’, but your property is likely worth over $100,000,000 on an open market. At what point do you stop and at the very least ask a question about liquidizing some of your assets to better your amenities?

I also do not want to suggest that being charitable, and giving to whatever cause you deem important, is not a good thing and I understand how much not-for-profit groups, schools, charities etc…rely on donations. All I am asking is that if Pope Francis had that $70,000…what would he do?

Here is an idea SHC, and I’m not being a curmudgeon here and saying “Don’t do it” to your Grand Piano. How about you raise the $70,000, purchase the one I found for $12,000 and then cure over 130 people from leprosy?

At the moment you can donate $432 to the Leprosy Mission which cures one person from leprosy. The cure includes locating them, caring for them, curing them and then supporting them into positions where they can support themselves. What would Pope Francis do?

If you don’t like the Leprosy Mission, how about World Vision, what about Rainbow Youth, do you like Tearfund? There are a myriad of opportunities out there that, in my opinion, would be grateful for the help to help others, all whilst the students of SHC can still sit at a $12,000 piano that 99% of New Zealanders would never be able to afford and 99.99% of New Zealanders wouldn’t hear a difference between.

And if the question “What would Pope Francis do?” is a bit existential, then what about “What would Jesus do?” maybe that’s a little easier to figure out.

Marriage Equality is the New Civil Rights Movement

It’s probably been fairly obvious for a while that I am a supporter of marriage equality.  I have always viewed same-sex marriage as a cut and dry case of civil rights. I believe that marriage is a governmental institution, not one that belongs to the church. Marriage, in its many forms, pre-dates the church. And as discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in New Zealand, it is obvious to me that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is discriminatory.

I myself got married fourteen years ago, on a bright winter’s day in June. I hardly thought about marriage as a right back then. All I knew was that I was in love with a beautiful girl and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It was a case of opposites attract, and we had no idea how much work our love was going to take, but here we are all those years later, and the cliché is true. We are more in love than ever before.

For us, marriage was a right of passage, the beginning of a journey that forced us to grow up like nothing else could. Statistically speaking, marriage improves every success marker for the couple and the children that may come from that marriage. Marriage done well makes everything better – and I can vouch for this. Marriage is also the ultimate gift. There is no other commitment quite like it. Marriage is the fullest demonstration of love that can be given from one person to another. It’s an amazing, life-giving transaction and it can only build stronger families and therefore stronger communities. Why would we want to withhold this incredible gift from anyone?

After watching Selma recently I finally came to the conclusion that the current battle for marriage equality is akin to the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960’s. Marriage equality is a civil rights issue. It has similarities with the world-changing battle that Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis and many others fought (and sometimes died) for. Marriage, for the spiritual, emotional, physical and legal benefits it offers, is a civil right.

In New Zealand we have been fortunate enough to have had both civil union and same-sex marriage legalised. But until same-sex marriage was legalised couples who were joined by civil union could not avail themselves of the Matrimonial Property Act, or adopt children. In other countries where same-sex marriage has not been legalised, gay couples are significantly disadvantaged. They are withheld rights to hospital visitations, medical decision making, adoption, parenting rights and automatic inheritance, among other rights.

John Lewia on Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965

John Lewis on Pettus Bridge in 1965

You may not recognise the name John Lewis, but he was with Martin Luther King on the bridge at Selma, and is considered one of the ‘Big Six’ civil rights leaders. He is the only member now still alive. He is a Christian and has been an American Congressman for more than 25 years. If there is anyone who has the right to compare the fight for marriage equality with the civil rights movement it is him. He was there in the thick of it then, and judging by his political and religious positions he is still in the thick of it today. There is literally no one else on the face of the planet who can look at these two issues, compare them, and speak to them with as much authority as John Lewis.

As a response to President Obama’s public support of Same-Sex Marriage Congressman John Lewis said:

Once people begin to see the similarities between themselves and others, instead of focusing on differences, they come to recognize that equality is essentially a matter of human rights and human dignity.

Even as early as nine years prior to President Obama’s public statement, John Lewis was beating the drum for marriage equality. In 2003, the man who was at the front of the march with Martin Luther King wrote an article for the Boston Globe that stated:

“I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God’s law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as [human beings] do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being [human beings].

John Lewis today

John Lewis today

He couldn’t be clearer; the fear and intolerance that leads people to seek to withhold the right for same-sex couples to marry is the same as the “fear, hatred and intolerance” that Lewis and the civil rights movement faced in the 1960’s.

As a follower of Jesus I want to be in the camp that stands up and speaks out for the disenfranchised. I want to speak up for those whose voice is not always welcome, not always heard. You can throw all the bible verses you like at me, and I’ll say simply that Jesus’ commandment to love one another trumps them all.

Some people may be unaware that the work I do for elephantTV is done jointly with my wife Idoya Munn. Although I am the presenter of the episodes, behind the scenes the project is carried 50/50 between us. This is the first post in a series, and we’ve written the next one together.

As I said in my earlier post, genuine comments and healthy, constructive conversation are welcome.

Next week we’ll talk about Same-Sex Marriage

I began writing a post in March on Same-Sex Marriage and it’s relation to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I have come back to the post on several occasions only to still be here two months later. I was inspired to write it after watching the movie Selma and I think there are many parallels to be drawn between the two fights for equality. What I have decided to do is break the piece into three posts that will be uploaded next week:

  1. Marriage Equality is the new civil rights campaign
  2. It’s time to get on the bridge
  3. Don’t be a George Wallace

I intend on challenging you to get involved in advocating for the LBGTI community, a much discriminated group. Even in places like New Zealand where Same-Sex Marriage is legal, there is still a battle to be won, especially in the church. We need to make a stand for what is right.

From next Monday I’ll begin posting and aim to have all three up by the end of the week.

As an aside, I realise that some won’t like these posts, but I am actively choosing not to engage in pointless debates or arguments around my thoughts. If you disagree that’s fine, however I’m too old and tired to try to convince anyone who is ardently fixed in their position. If you do want to genuinely and openly converse about anything I have written about I welcome it, but if you want to troll me or my thoughts then I’ll leave you to do that on your own blogs and social media.

As someone who has held these beliefs for a long time I have suffered discrimination (in a very minor way) and exclusion from some Christian groups. To be honest I think I have been somewhat cowardly in not speaking up more publicly until now. I guess there has been a fear that my opinions may effect an income stream or opportunity for me somewhere in the future amongst the Christian community.

However I have decided that I am not going to worry about that any more. I am going to be myself and speak my mind as I see it. If it means I lose people or opportunities then so be it.

I look forward to engaging with you next week.

Getting Ready

As a family we are off to Dunedin, my wife has written a wonderful post that says it for more eloquently than I ever could…so just read her words

Idoya Munn


Of all the places I’ll miss when we leave, this is the one I’ll miss the most. This is the spot I come to, walking down towards the beach and then veering left before I get there. Down to the estuary and along the stream that meets it, splashing through the shallows and then walking up the path through the bush above. At the top is a hidden playground, a surprising open space on a small promontory with a bench seat out at the point , and this view. It’s beauty doesn’t depend on the tide. When it’s out the wily mangrove roots are exposed, reaching down into the fertile mud, and the water becomes a green ribbon winding its way down from the dam. The beauty is in its wildness, in the way, if you position the camera lens just so, you can’t see the raw earth of a new…

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Cyber bullying?

The team at TVNZ brought to the public attention how cyber-bullying happens to anyone who has even the smallest modicum of public presence by having some of their presenting staff read out tweets they have received or have been said about them on Twitter.

Here is that video

As a quick guide Matt McLean was called a “lying corporate whore”. Ruth Wynn-Williams was called a “c***”. Seven Sharp’s Dean Butler was told: “Don’t take this the wrong way but I really hope someone punches you.”  Helen Castles received a comment saying: “if you had babies I would want to punch them in the head.” Business presenter Nadine Chalmers-Ross was told: “you are dead boring…hot…but f****** dull”, while weatherman Sam Wallace was tweeted: “who do you think you are no one wants to see you strutting around you ruin my morning I hate you.”

I thought that maybe I’d get in on the act. Truth be told I pretty much never used twitter while I was working on air at various radio stations, but I received plenty of, shall we say, forward opinion on myself and my performance as an announcer.

Some selected statements from emails I received over the years

If Pat thinks that this is not true, or thinks he’s tough enough or righteous enough to battle the force of my indignation and the strength of conviction it has given me, then you have the address you useless dickhead -come over any time. Justice is here waiting for you, you hypocritical, overrated, wannabee.

Isn’t the show tonight a vast improvement without Pats idiotic presence.

Enough from me , but believe me , Brittenden is just not what ZB needs . He thinks he has all the answers , but unfortunately he does NOT .

It took me under 2 minutes to find out the address of your home

Would you please remove Pat Brittenden as a talk back host. He does not meet the standards required by the public and his attitude is shocking

Can you please tape Pat’s mouth for the rest of the evening, so I don’t have to hear another rubbish out of this man’s gap

You are a shocker, my 8 year old son could read the news better then You do, You read the news sort of like a rhyme the sound at the end of the sentences turned up an octave and on top of it there is a lisp and a lot of tongue around the wrong spots. Overall your program sucks, You are righteous and naive and at times sickening,

I had the misfortune to wake up briefly in the early hours and heard Pat (Pratt) Brittenden on air

At least that will highlight your stupidity.

You’re ugly brother

Know your belly was fake, but, the fat face double chin fake to??? What happened to weight watchers

PLEASE think before you open your mouth and put your foot in it in future

but I won’t really have to worry as will be listening to some other

You obviously have no humour & the show is very boring & straight jacket style.

What an irresponsible parent you are.

You think You can fool the listeners, all You want out of it is a fat salary to support your family, there is no passion there – people can feel that- learn to deal with critics and don’t be insulting to your listeners, then maybe You’ve got a chance to better yourself

And although I wasn’t a big user of Twitter at the time, we did give listeners to connect with us via text. Here are some of the more colourful ones of those (spelling, grammar etc…hasn’t been corrected)

Please dont let that screaming lefty liberal pat come on.

You should quit talk back before someone comes up to radio works and smashes the Shit out of ya. You fucken wanker.

Hi pat i will tell you about you you are a know it all jumped up turd j

Sorry pat,please find alternative employment,u r not at all popular and regarded by most listenrs as a nieve sub-intelligenced geek.Try burger fliping at McD’s.

Pat your program is ‘shit’ we dont need 2 hear same thing repeatly!!

U fat FAGGOT BRITTENDEN.Ya all false.C u at Maungawhai.

yor so fuking thik u stupid cunt

Ur a fukn idiot how is a labour supporter automaticaly a peters supporter, no wonder u get th shit shifts

U twat, we all like childrens stories dont we! Yr not at school now. U r crap

Pc pat u SO TOTALLY SUCK .Pull your head in its talkback if we wanted music,we would be listening tn another station.Yeh yeh yeh U suk rsoul

There u go again i i me me ur such a bore no wonder the 0ratings are goin down u wont be there mch longer i hve on good authorty..

Hi pat, its maree from tawa here. I warned u not 2 upset me. U arshole. Please dont mes me about.

For me personally I don’t feel bullied, this kind of thing never bothered me, still doesn’t. I had instances where there were TradeMe treads talking about me and I remember one guys saying on one of them that I must have had the thickest skin in the world…when it comes to anonymous morons having a crack I do because I don’t really care what strangers think about me.

So I put some of these up in solidarity with my TVNZ brothers and sisters and to all those who think just because someone is in a job where you see or hear them in your home, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to have a crack whenever and where ever you want.

I  hope, if nothing else, at least you had a little smile at the spelling mistakes in the texts above😉


Stand up NZ. Waitangi Day is your day!

To be honest, I cannot be bothered with people telling me that Waitangi Day is a day for Maori or a ‘waste of a day’ or anything else. Waitangi Day is our national day and you are the only person who can own it as such. The one group of people that piss me off more than any around Waitangi Day is the ones who choose not to celebrate it and blame Maori, or protests, or arguments or any other reason for them opting out.

I am sick of you.

If you love NZ, and consider yourself a NZer then you will celebrate Waitangi Day, our national day tomorrow, and if you find a reason not to, it you blame anyone else for taking away that sense of you and your national day, then I pity you.

‘Nuf said, here is a press release we worked on a couple of years ago that pretty much sums it up for me. Get a set of balls NZ and choose to celebrate your day.

Waitangi Day, a day for all Kiwi’s to celebrate

with a BBQ and a cold beer.

Self described Average-Joe Pat Brittenden is calling all New Zealanders to own their own national day and celebrate Waitangi Day with a good old Kiwi barbie. With the help of a Facebook page accessed via www.waitangiday.org.nz Pat is spreading his message of unity and railing against the apathy of so many New Zealanders towards Waitangi Day.

The Facebook page “Waitangi Day BBQ” challenges New Zealanders to ignore the bad press that seems to take over the headlines around Waitangi Day and celebrate the day as a day for all of us to come together and celebrate being kiwis.

Brittenden says it’s sad that a generation of people have settled for a sub-par national day, and that it has become no more or less special than any other day of the year.

“When people go to waitangiday.org.nz and ‘LIKE’ the page, it’s a way of saying ‘Yes, I’m going to own and to celebrate our national holiday!’” says Brittenden, “I want to challenge people who don’t usually do anything on February the 6th to do something. It could be a BBQ, a picnic, or a fishing trip, but the point is to do something positive to mark the day.”

Pat’s http://www.waitangiday.org.nz initiative has cross-party support with most political parties in the house.

These are some of the messages of support.

  • National Party: “It’s a day to celebrate the unique and ambitious treaty signed by our forebears in 1840, and the growing unity between Maori and other New Zealanders in our communities.” – The Right Honourable John Key – Prime Minister.
  • Labour Party: “…it is a day for all Kiwis to come together and celebrate a country that has much to offer its people.” – The Honourable Phil Goff – Leader of the Opposition.
  • Maori Party: “We all value our own histories and traditions, and with mutual recognition and respect, co-operation, and the utmost good faith, we have unity in our diversity. So gather round the barbie, and give thanks for what our ancestors have given us.” – The Honourable Dr. Pita Sharples – Minister of Maori Affairs

These statements in full and also statements of support from the Honourable Jim Anderton and the Honourable Peter Dunne – Minister of Revenue can be found on www.averagejoe.co.nz

Facebook users who have liked the page have also said things like…

  • “This is the most sensible Idea”
  • “Hey Pat. One thing I’ve noticed in north America is how they celebrate their national days. Both Canada day here, and 4th of July south of the border are huge! It be awesome to see kiwis being a bit more patriotic and coming together to celebrate our national day!
  • “Luv it, United we stand divided we fall and if our backs should be against the wall we’ll be together you and I.. Make it a good day, spread happiness.”

Pat Brittenden wants New Zealanders to take their national day and own it, to make it a day of celebration for all Kiwis to come together around a BBQ and be thankful for this great country we live in.

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